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Managers Need Conflict Training


Managers need greater training in dealing with workplace disputes, a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has concluded.

The CIPD surveyed 1,200 employers and found that managing conflict at work costs the average employer nearly 450 days of management time every year - equivalent to two full-time managers.

The survey also revealed a lack of skills among line managers in resolving disputes as well as a lack of training and an over reliance on HR departments.

* More than half of respondents rated their line managers "average" in the key area of resolving workplace disputes informally.

* Only 62% trained any employees in conflict management skills and nearly a third amongst these do not train their line managers.

* Training in mediation skills was only carried out by one quarter of employees, with HR managers significantly more likely to be trained than their line management colleagues.

* Those employers that provide mediation training for staff were likely to have significantly less disciplinary cases, averaging 22 cases per year compared to 49 cases per year among organisations that don't provide such training.

Imogen Haslam, CIPD professional adviser and co-author of the report, said that more effort needed to be made to nip workplace problems in the bud.

"Training in conflict management and mediation is essential if line managers are to become more competent and confident in managing conflict. Only then will the waste of management time be reduced and more harmonious, more productive relationships at work develop," she added.

The report comes as new Dispute Resolution Regulations mean that all employers and employees must follow a minimum three-step disciplinary and grievance procedure in the event of a workplace dispute from tomorrow (October 1).

The research revealed that 40% of respondents believed the new regulations would reduce the number of employment tribunals. However, employers were fairly evenly split on whether the new regulations will make tribunal hearings more (13%) or less (15%) complex.

Key findings:

* Employers reported a 5% increase in employment applications in the last 12 months, meaning each employer handled an average of three tribunal applications over the past year.

* Employers manage on average 30 formal disciplinary cases a year and nine grievance cases.

* Disciplinary and grievance cases took up 10.5 days in management, HR staff and in-house lawyers time per case.

* Preparing for a tribunal hearing took 12.8 days in human resource, line management and in-house lawyers time.


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